Page:Inside Canton.djvu/165

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

we would hold ourselves at his disposal at about eight o'clock, he would accompany us in a tour. At the hour agreed upon, the boatmen were before Thè-ki-Han, and we found the mandarin installed in the saloon of the vessel, leisurely sipping a cup of tea. All the blinds were drawn up, except those immediately in front of the great man himself, in order that we might see outside. After the usual compliments had passed, our host had us settled in a corner of the room, by two half-open windows through which we could see without being seen. Thus secured from all accidents, since the mandarin was with us, visible to all observers, and his name legible on every flag, we traversed the city of Tchou-kiang.

After this exploration, I can assert that Europeans—Europeans resident in China, I mean—have understated the enormous extent of river surface which is populated. The boat which carried us was rowed along by six oarsmen; we rowed for several consecutive hours without repassing by the same streets, and it was high festival every part of the way! Up the river, down the river, along the branching canals, in the bays and bends of the stream, everywhere, there was song, revelry, and illumination. As soon as we came up before a first-class boat, everybody repeated our mandarin's name, and the pretty barks which were in waiting before the large establishments, like carriages at